German street parties after Euro-final berth; Turks gracious

Society Materials 26 June 2008 04:54 (UTC +04:00)

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was happy to catch his flight to Japan, probably after fighting his way through tens of thousands of jubilant fans in Berlin celebrating Germany's place in the Euro 2008 final.

In Hamburg, meanwhile, Turkish waiter Hassan tried to keep a straight face as he continued to serve food, wine and espressos in the Italian restaurant Coma Prima after his team's dramatic 3-2 semi- final loss to the Germans in Basle, Switzerland.

Diners were urging owner Ricardo to make an exception and open on Sunday for the Euro final, which was not only due to fill the restaurant again but to draw millions of Germans to public viewing areas across the country, as well as countless restaurants and bars.

The street parades nationwide started almost immediately after Philipp Lahm slammed a stunning, 90th-minute winner to secure Germany's place in the Sunday final against Spain or Russia.

"What a match. I was delighted when Lahm scored," Steinmeier said as he rushed to the airport to board a plane for a meeting of G8 foreign ministers in Japan.

He watched the game in Berlin's Treptow district, which gave him an easier path to the airport than had he stayed near the Brandenburg Gate, where an estimated 500,000 fans had gathered to watch the game.

Like viewers around the world, German fans were hit by a TV blackout late in the second half as a thunderstorm raged over Vienna, where the international TV signal was being distributed. The violent weather also led to the evacuation of the Vienna fan zone and the international media centre there.

There was agony among the fans when the screens went blank, but soon at least an audio signal was available again as ZDF network reporter Bela Rethy resorted to radio commentary.

The TV signal was restored for the final minutes, and the whole country went into a frenzy once the final whistle was blown.

"The atmosphere is superb. Everyone is in a really good mood," said a Berlin fan zone spokeswoman.

The Berlin fan zone turned into a carnival while fireworks went off in Hamburg, and the population of the Black Forest community of Schoenau hailed its most prominent citizen, Germany coach Joachim Loew.

"Jogi proved yet again that he can do it," said Mayor Bernhard Seger.

The Turkish camp was gracious in defeat. They were outnumbered in the official fan zone in Berlin but watched in large numbers in Kreuzberg and other neighbourhoods with strong Turkish commmunities in the German capital.

"This was a really big step toward integration," said Celal Bingol, president of the football club Turkiyemspor Berlin.

Some incidents were reported from Dresden in eastern German, but the atmosphere was generally peaceful, and many Turks living in Germany are now expected to support the team of their adopted country in the big final Sunday in Vienna.

In Hamburg, meanwhile, Hassan was ready to present the bill, still proud because his team had done much better than that of his Italian boss and his Croatian wife, Alexandra, and of Polish waitress Violeta.

The grappas were on the house, dpa reported.